By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Agriculture Secretary William Dar has denied any anomaly in the procurement of more than P5 billion worth of fertilizers being conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under its P8.5-billion Rice Resiliency Project (RRP).
In a statement, the DA said that it strictly followed the procurement protocols for the emergency purchase of as much as 5.69 million bags of fertilizers, pursuant to Section 53.2 of Republic Act 9184 and Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) NPM 003-2020 in response to the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.”
Dar, in a virtual press briefing on Thursday, also came in defense of this move, saying “all the process of this procurement has been observed”.
“I made a special committee to see to it that there is no corruption,” Dar said. “There is no anomaly in that procurement and the fertilizers that we secured are priced lower than before and we actually saved money from it”.
Dar’s statement came as some farmers claimed that the price of fertilizers distributed as part of DA’s COVID-19 interventions are overpriced.
To be specific, DA initially procured a total of 1.8 million bags of urea fertilizer priced differently depending on the period.
From April 27 to May 1, the DA secured it for only P1,035.60 per 50-kilogram bag, then it slightly increased to P1,037.53 from May 4 to 8 and to P1,040.68 from May 11 to 15.
The volume procured comprises four of the 16 lots that were bid out for wet season 2020 cropping.
“Such prices were a lot cheaper compared to previous purchases at the regions, ranging from P1,300 to P1,500 per 50-kilo bag of urea fertilizer,” said Dar.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the average price of urea fertilizers in the country in 2018 stood at P1,121.57 per 50-kilogram bag.
DA had so far issued Notices to Award and Purchase Orders to the two winning fertilizer companies namely La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation and Atlas Fertilizer.
La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation was contracted for the delivery of 97,615 bags of urea fertilizers at P990 per 50-kilogram bag to Region 4A; 694,904 bags at P995 per 50-kilogram bag to Region 6; and 911,073 bags at P995 per 50-kilogram to Region 3.
Atlas Fertilizer, on the other hand, delivered 107,498 bags at P900/bag to Region 7.
Currently, there is an on-going procurement process for the remaining lots.
“I can personally vouch for the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the procurement process that the DA-BAC [Bids and Awards Committee] has exercised for these fertilizers. Guided by our Legal Office and in constant consultation with the GPPB, we made sure we followed the number of the prescribed procurement procedure as required by the law,” Dar further said.
“We have been very transparent on the procurement of fertilizer as we know this might be used to stir false information against the government. The DA will not wrongfully hold any information that should be known to the public. I encourage everyone to help us look even closer to ensure that every peso we allot is going to where it should be spent,” he added.